Dec. 10, 2011

 

(7-1, 0-0)
 
  1st 2nd F
 Arkansas 25 38 63
 Oklahoma 37 41 78
 
Stats | Notes | Quotes | Photos | Highlights | Postgame

(5-3, 0-0)
 
 
 
 Stat Comparison OU UA
 Points 78 63
 FG Made-Attempted 26-50 20-58
 FG Percentage .520 .345
 3P Made/Attempted 8-16 7-27
 3P Percentage .500 .259
 FT Made-Attempted 18-23 16-20
 FT Percentage .783 .800
 Rebounds 38 26
 Turnovers 17 23
 
 Individual Leaders
 Stat  Oklahoma  Arkansas
 Points  Pledger (22)  Young (24)
 Rebounds  Fitzgerald (8)  Mickelson (7)
 Assists  Neal (4)  Nobles (5)
 Steals  2 players (2)  Young (3)
 Blocks  Osby (2)  Mickelson (4)
 
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NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Steven Pledger and his Oklahoma teammates found the right ways to help Andrew Fitzgerald celebrate his 21st birthday: Keep feeding him the ball early and then let him take it easy down the stretch.
 
Fitzgerald scored all of his season-high 17 points in the first 14 minutes and pulled down eight rebounds, and Oklahoma took control early in a 78-63 win against Arkansas on Saturday.
 
Fitzgerald made his first five shots as the Sooners (7-1) built a 16-point first-half edge and led for the final 36 minutes.
 
"My man was hot for his birthday," Pledger said. "I loved it."
 
Pledger scored 19 of his 22 points in the second half and Tyler Neal came off the bench for a career-high 18 as Oklahoma continued a trend of the home team winning each of the last five years in the rekindled series between schools from neighboring states.
 
"The first half, I just kept feeding Fitz," Pledger said. "It's his birthday, he was hot. Give it to him."
 
Then the Sooners' leading scorer took over when his team needed him the most.
 
Pledger scored Oklahoma's first nine points after halftime, putting back a Fitzgerald miss and hitting a 3-pointer to spark a 13-3 run that restored the Sooners' cushion after Arkansas had pulled within six. His 3-pointer from the left wing put the Sooners up 54-38 with 12:05 remaining.
 
The lead reached as much as 19, and Arkansas never got closer than 14 after that.
 
"I just thought we showed some tendencies of a young basketball team, and that means we can get rattled pretty easily," first-year Razorbacks coach Mike Anderson said.
 
Freshman BJ Young scored 24 points to lead Arkansas (5-3), which suffered through a miserable shooting performance for a second straight weekend on the road. The Razorbacks missed 14 of their first 15 shots and finished shooting 34 percent from the field, limiting their ability to deploy Anderson's signature pressure defense.
 
The Razorbacks shot just 31 percent in a 75-62 loss at defending national champion Connecticut a week earlier.
 
"As I told our guys, I'll take the blame for this one because I didn't have them ready," Anderson said. "We had a week to get prepared and we just didn't get the job done."
 
"I just maybe didn't have the right combination," he added. "You've got to put the ball in the hole on the road. We just didn't put the ball in the hole when we needed to."
 
Oklahoma turned it over on its first two possessions to fall behind by four, then settled in and reeled off 12 straight points to take the lead for good.
 
The Sooners scored on 11 straight possessions and made nine of their first 10 shots, with Fitzgerald putting back the rebound when Romero Osby's shot was blocked by Hunter Mickelson. Osby drove for a right-handed jam, Fitzgerald hit a hook shot and Osby converted a reverse layup as Oklahoma ran its lead to 22-7 just over eight minutes into the game.
 
Fitzgerald got the last of his 17 points by putting back a missed Neal 3-pointer to put Oklahoma ahead 29-15. He picked up two quick fouls just after halftime and only played four minutes after that.
 
"I was just in the groove, really. My teammates got me open, to be in the right place at the right time," Fitzgerald said. "They were looking for me."
 
While Oklahoma couldn't miss, Arkansas couldn't find the basket.
 
The Razorbacks connected just once in the first 10 minutes while missing their first seven 3-pointers. They ended up 7 of 27 from 3-point range and got beat 38-26 on the boards — becoming the seventh of Oklahoma's eight opponents to be outrebounded.
 
"We still haven't just came together as a unit yet. Those guys make a run and we'll come back down, we'll jack up a shot, we'll do something crazy, we'll turn the ball over," said Arkansas guard Mardracus Wade, who scored 11 points. "I think we have to be more patient. When those guys make runs, we've just got to chip away, make stops, make an easy bucket."
 
Wade said Arkansas is still adjusting to Anderson's new schemes on offense and defense, and to the loss of leading scorer Marshawn Powell to a season-ending injury.
 
"I think that's one of our biggest problems right now is we don't have that leader on our team, that person who can calm us down and un-rattle us," Wade said. "That's one thing we've just got to try and find."
 
Young raced down the court for a finger roll to cut the halftime deficit to 12, and Arkansas pulled back within 41-35 on Rickey Scott's fast-break layup within the first five minutes of the second half.
 
That stretch was the only part of the game when Arkansas scored even five points in a row.
 
"They can get on a big run with that press if they get it going and cranking it up pretty good," first-year Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. "So we avoided that, I thought, with the back-to-back turnovers that make it a six-point swing.
 
"For the most part, I thought our guys did a terrific job with it."